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Lifestyle, Miscarriage, Birth Defects And Chromosome Abnormalities

Feb 29, 2008
Many couples who have a miscarriage are told that the laboratory tests have shown that there is a chromosome abnormality. This sounds very serious doesn't it? It is serious and these problems can lead to the birth of a handicapped child. Usually, however, the problem is not inherent and in most cases can be overcome by changes in lifestyle. The couple can become extremely anxious unnecessarily.

First let me explain that almost all miscarriages are abnormal in some way. The pregnancy is lost because the embryo did not develop properly. The cause of this is usually because either the man or woman has been exposed to chemicals or one or other of them has a dietary deficiency or a bad habit of some type. Bad habits include not drinking enough water, taking drugs, having too much alcohol, smoking heavily and in the case of the man, exposing his testes to too much heat. Infections, both of the common flu variety and of the STD - sexually transmitted variety - can also be involved. Viruses can break chromosomes in exactly the same way as chemicals, radiation and serious dietary deficiencies.

In some rare cases the problem is ongoing and can be inherited. It is important that each case is investigated properly. The types of chromosome abnormalities that are found in miscarriages are most frequently changes in chromosome number. Changes in the structure of chromosomes can also occur but they are far less frequent than changes in number.

Most people reading this article would know that the normal number of chromosomes is 46. So how can this change?

The answer lies in the process of fertility and conception. Fertility in both the man and the woman involves a special form of cell division - called meiosis - in which the chromosome number is halved. This 'reduction' division occurs so that when the sperm fertilizes the egg, the child will have the same number of chromosomes as the parents. Half the child's chromosomes come from mother and half from father.

Sometimes this very specialized division process makes errors and one or two chromosomes end up in the wrong place. The resultant egg or sperm then has one or two extra chromosomes. Of course there is also a complementary egg or sperm that is missing those chromosomes but these cells usually die. In fact the only cells that can survive with missing chromosomes are those that miss sex chromosomes. Some miscarriages have only 45 chromosomes, including only one X chromosome and occasionally babies are born with only one X chromosome. They grow up with a special set of characteristics known as Turner's syndrome.

Fertilized eggs that result from eggs or sperm with extra chromosomes usually miscarry although those with an extra copy of one chromosome 21 might survive with Down's syndrome. However the couples that have these miscarriages or babies with extra chromosomes are themselves, usually normal. It is the conditions in their bodies at the time of creating the eggs and sperm that are the problem. These unfavorable conditions can usually be corrected by correcting the bad lifestyle unless the problem is advancing age.

From about age 35 in both men and women, cell division can be compromised. The problem lies in changes in the body that affect the function of the energy systems in the cells. Optimising all aspects of lifestyle can often overcome these problems but the effects of any poor habits will be amplified with ageing.

The other problem that can affect chromosome number is delayed ovulation. When the egg is over-ripe it can be fertilized by more than one sperm. In such cases the fertilized eggs has one or more extra sets of chromosomes and is often given the unfortunate name of a 'molar pregnancy'. Fortunately, this problem can also be overcome by correcting poor diet and lifestyle.

If you have had a pregnancy in which a chromosomes abnormality was detected but you, yourselves are normal, make sure that you take the time and effort to correct your lifestyle. You will be rewarded by feeling much healthier and hopefully also by giving birth to a healthy baby. Find about more about support for optimising lifestyle and fertility on http://www.ez-fertility.co.uk.
About the Author
Dr Judy Ford is an internationally respected geneticist who has undertaken considerable research into the causes of miscarriage, causes of infertility and birth defects. Her research has shown that most problems are preventable through changes to healthy lifestyles and healthy habits. More information can be found on her website http://www.ez-fertility.co.uk.
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